How to Print T-shirts at Home With Iron

Many people enjoy the challenge of designing their own t-shirt. However, there are always limitations to what can be done with a computer and printer. If you want to get more creative than just printing off whatever design you find on the internet, then it’s necessary to print your own shirts at home with an iron. This blog post will discuss in detail how to print t-shirts at home with iron. 

The first step is deciding which method will work best for your needs or personal preference. The next step is purchasing supplies like heat transfer paper (if that’s the route you choose), fabric paint pens (for stencils), and screen printing ink if you’re going that route instead. Let’s go through this article to know more!

How to Print T-shirts at Home With Iron

10 Methods to Print T-shirts at Home With Iron

1. Prepping The Shirt:

Before ironing on your design, you will need to prepare your shirt. To start, lay the shirt flat on a hard surface and carefully smooth out all wrinkles.  This will ensure that the print comes out smooth and crisp when finished.

2. Printing Your Design:

Now it’s time for the fun part! Open up your favorite program and get ready to create some art. In this example, I’ll use Photoshop CS3, but the steps will be similar to any other graphic design or photo editing software. 

Your file will need a transparent background for the iron-on transfer process to work properly, so make sure your new design is saved with a transparent transfer to take properly. This is a great time to utilize your gradients, solid colors, and other built-in graphic features.

3. The Actual Printing:

Once you’ve got everything laid out the way you want it, save your image, and you won’t lose it. In Photoshop, this can be done by clicking ‘File > Save As’ and then changing the file type to ‘Photoshop (*.PSD, *.PDD)’ from the drop-down menu next to ‘Format.’  This will ensure that your image is saved in a fully editable format.  

4. Prep Your Iron:

Before you start transferring your image, make sure to turn the steam off on your iron.  This will ensure that no water gets into the heating chamber and ruins the shirt or transfers. Once this is done, please set it to the highest temperature setting possible before the cloth begins to burn (typically cotton). The iron should register between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit for the cotton setting.

Print Using A T-shirt Transfer Paper

5. Transfer Your Image:

This part is easy! Just place your printed design face down onto the shirt where you want it, and then apply a little bit of pressure for about 30 seconds or so.  Ensure you have a piece of scrap cloth or something that you can place over the design to ensure it doesn’t slip.  Then, turn the shirt around and iron it from the backside for about 30 more seconds.

6. Drawing With Sharpies:

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, Sharpie markers are great for creating graphics. The ink is set fairly quickly, so it is best to lay your shirt flat and place whatever you draw on top of it.  Then, follow the directions that come with your marker to transfer the design onto the shirt.

7. Print Using A T-shirt Transfer Paper:

If you don’t want to go through all the trouble of drawing your own stuff, or if you need a copy of something already in digital format, this is for you.  Just print out the design and use transfer paper (which can be picked up at any craft store for a few bucks) to lay it onto the shirt and iron it into place.

8. Print Using A Laser Printer:

A laser printer should produce much more vibrant prints than your standard inkjet and can be used with T-shirt transfer paper and regular paper to print your desired graphics. The only downfall to this method is that it’s not quite as smooth and crisp as a screen-printed graphic, so if you want ultra-high quality, then I’d recommend going the more traditional route through an inkjet printer.

9. Use A Heat Press:

If all of these methods seem a bit too difficult for you, then you can take your design to a copy center and have it screen printed for a reasonable price. Just make sure they know about the transfer process beforehand so they don’t get flustered if they get any requests like this in the future.

10. Creating Multiple Shirts:

If you need multiple shirts but don’t want them to all look identical, then this little trick will come in handy. First, create the artwork for your first shirt using your desired method (iron-on, Sharpie markers, etc.), and then print that design onto clear transparency or acetate sheet. Then, simply laying that over your freshly printed T-shirt will give you a unique design that looks like it took you days to accomplish!

Required Materials:

  1. Iron
  2. Plain white t-shirt (preferably cotton)
  3. Inexpensive printer inkjet paper
  4. Paper towels
  5. Masking tape, packing tape, or masking/painters tape
  6. An image file of your design

How to Print T-shirts at Home With Iron 

Step 1:

Prepare the image file for your design. If you have a photo editing program, change the contrast to make it as black as possible this helps ensure that the inkjet printer prints are as black as possible.

In addition, set the resolution of your image file to 300dpi (dots per inch) before printing. You can download one for free online if you do not have a photo editing program. There are many options to choose from; be sure that it is compatible with your computer’s operating system.

Step 2:

Once the contrast and resolution of your image file are set, print the design onto a sheet of inkjet paper. Make sure that the “mirror image” option is unchecked. This will ensure that it prints correctly.

Step 3:

Place the printed image face down on top of a plain white t-shirt. Use masking tape or packing tape to secure the paper to the shirt. Make sure that it is as flat and smooth as possible. This will ensure a clean and crisp print, so do not skip this step!

Print Using A Laser Printer

Step 4:

Turn on your iron and let it heat up for 5-10 minutes. The iron temperature does not matter because we will be fusing the ink from the image, so it only needs to be hot enough to do this. Once your iron is heated up, please turn it off and unplug it from the wall.

Step 5:

After making sure your iron does not have a steam setting, slowly pass it back and forth over the piece of taped-down paper. This will create steam and may take a while, so do not get impatient and move too quickly. If you see that the paper begins to crinkle, stop ironing and wait for it to cool down before starting again.

Step 6:

After ironing over the image, carefully remove the tape from the backside of the paper. Then, check to ensure that the ink has fused to the shirt and not just the paper. If it looks solid, then you are ready to move on! However, if it is see-through or white in areas, repeat step 5 until all of the paper has been fused with the image.

Step 7:

Now, you are ready to heat press your t-shirt. First, make sure that the ink has firmed up completely before proceeding. Next, turn on the heat press machine, ensuring not to exceed 320 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius. Once it is heated up, follow the instructions for your specific machine and place your t-shirt inside of it for 20 seconds.

Step 8:

Once 20 seconds have passed, pull the t-shirt out of the heat press and check to ensure that the design has not smeared or is still see-through. If it is, then put it back in for another 10 seconds. Allow the design to cool completely before handling it.

To make a t-shirt, you will need:

  1. A printer
  2. T-shirt transfer paper
  3. A piece of cardboard
  4. An iron
  5. A t-shirt
  6. A pair of scissors

First, print your design onto the t-shirt transfer paper. Then, cut out your design, leaving a small border around the edge. Next, place the piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt to prevent the design from transferring to the back of the shirt. Then, place the design on the t-shirt and iron it for a few minutes. Finally, peel off the backing paper, and you’re done!


Printing t-shirts at home is a great way to save money. But, not all printers are created equal. You need to consider several things if you want the perfect t-shirt printing experience for your own needs and budget. 

We hope you have found this blog post on how to print t-shirts at home with iron useful for printing t-shirts. If so, please share it with your friends and family on social media to let them know how they can save money too! And don’t forget if you would like more information about the design process or other aspects of screen printing apparel, we are always happy to help.

Nancy Behan

Nancy Behan

Nancy is an embroidery artist, fashion blogger and a full time editor at DIY quickly. Nancy edits the fashion section on DIY quickly, focusing on the embroidery and cross stitch articles, alongside with fabric and other costume design elements. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. She loves to work on her own projects, read books and watch romantic movies in her spare time.

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